Happy Lunar New Year! 2021 is the year of the Ox, an animal that is valued in asian culture. In Vietnam, an Ox is a hardworking animal usually found working alongside a farmer by helping him plough through rice fields during harvest season. Symbolically, an Ox is described as honest, hard working, humble and intelligent. Men born in the year of the Ox are reliable and trustworthy but can be borderline arrogant (with little room for flexibility). Women born in the year of the Ox are calm and gentle but can be stubborn and react or think quickly to situations.
In celebration of Luna New Year, I am showing you how to make this restaurant favourite at home, best enjoyed with rice and veggies.
*Good To Know*
- What type of pork should I use? For best results in a golden, crispy skin and juicy meat the best cut of meat is a pork belly (aka. side pork belly) with skin on. Choose one with 80% meat and 20% fat. Usually, you can buy this type of cut at your local asian grocery store from the butcher counter or meat refrigerator. Roast time will vary depending if you buy a pork belly with our without bone.
- How long should I marinate the pork belly? The key to roasting a very good, crackling skin is to have a dry, salted skin. In order to achieve this, the pork needs to marinate for at least 6 hours (minimum) or up to 24 hours.
- What is rice cooking wine used for? Used widely in asian dishes, this rice wine is a popular cooking liquid (made from fermented glutinous rice) that enhances or intensifies flavour and aroma in food. It’s a form of salted alcohol and can be used much like other wines such as red and white wine in other cuisines.
Ingredients you will need for this recipe:
- Pork belly (or side pork belly) with 80% meat, 20% fat and skin on. Bone or boneless is optional.
- Shao Hsing rice cooking wine
- Spices / seasoning: sea salt, brown sugar, five spice, soy sauce
- Produce: garlic, onion
Preheat oven to 350°F (176.7°C). Use a 9 x 13″ baking dish, lined with aluminum foil (not pictured as I did this without lining the dish with foil. Believe me when I say, it will save you a lot of cursing trying to soak, scrape and clean your dish afterwards!). Add a roasting rack inside and pour 1.5 cups of water into the dish. Place pork belly onto rack and pour the rest of the marinade into the dish. Scrape any onion bits off the meat and let it drop into the bottom of the dish. Do not cover your meat! Roast meat for 45 minutes on the middle oven rack. Then remove meat from oven and increase oven temperature to 460°F (237.8°C). It’s worth noting that if you’re using convection temperature, set your oven temperature approx. 15 degrees less.
At this point, your pork belly skin should not have any cracklings yet. While waiting for oven temperature to rise, pour another 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the dish (if needed) but be careful not to get the skin wet.
Roast pork in the oven for another 30 – 40 minutes until internal temperature reads 165°F (74°C) for doneness. You should see the skin start to crackle and turn into a golden brown colour. Pro tip: if pork skin starts to brown a little too much and your meat is not done yet, move your baking dish to the bottom oven rack and loosely place a sheet of aluminum foil on top of your pork belly skin to avoid further burning.
Allow meat to rest on cutting board for 10 minutes. If pork belly has bones on, remove it by carefully cutting along the bottom to separate meat and bones. Then, flip pork belly over with skin on the bottom and meat facing up (this will make it easier to cut meat). Cut into bite size pieces and place on a plate with skin side facing up again. The contrast on this dish is so scrumptious! Tender meat and crunchy skin! Irresistably delicious! Serve with white rice, veggies of choice and sweet hoisin sauce for dipping.
Happy Lunar New Year!
Crispy Roasted Pork Belly
- 2½ pounds Pork Belly, bone in
- 1 Tablespoon shao hsing rice cooking wine
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Rinse pork under cold water, scrape skin with knife (careful not to cut skin) to clean and pat dry with paper towels.
- Poke holes into skin in an even layer (without piercing through to fat layer) with a wooden skewer. Dip corner of a paper towel sheet into shao hsing wine and wipe over pork skin. Sprinkle sea salt evenly on skin.
- In a medium mixing bowl stir together onion, garlic, five spice, brown sugar, shao hsing wine and soy sauce.
- Place pork on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap meat portion of pork belly (leaving skin exposed) by creating a foil 'boat' and pinching the ends together. Carefully, pour marinade into foil boat on each side (without touching skin) and gently massage / swivel marinade to cover meat. Press together sides to keep meat wrapped as tight as possible while leaving skin exposed. Place into a 9 x 9 inch baking dish (or a container) that fits meat snuggly. Put dish into refrigerator to marinate minimum 6 hours or maximum 24 hours (for best results) and to give skin time to dry.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (176.7°C). Place a roasting rack into a 9 x 13 baking dish lined with aluminum foil (or use a roasting pan with rack). Pour 1½ cups water into bottom of pan. Add pork belly on top of roasting rack and pour marinade into bottom of the pan (careful not to pour over skin). Place on middle shelf in oven and roast meat for 45 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and increase oven temperature to 460°F (237.8°C). Pour another 1/2 cup of water into bottom of roasting pan (if needed) and place pan back into oven. Roast for another 30 or 40 minutes until internal meat temperature is 165°F (74°C) for doneness and pork skin is golden and crispy. If skin is already brown but meat is not fully cooked, move roasting pan to bottom oven shelf and loosely place aluminum sheet on top of skin to avoid further burning while waiting for meat to reach doneness.
- Allow meat to rest for 10 minutes on cutting board. Separate ribs from meat, then chop meat into bite size pieces. Enjoy roasted pork with hoisin dipping sauce and a side of rice with veggies.